Fox should just switch to Animation

Why is it a no-brainer (literally) for major studios to green-light live action CGI remakes of classic cartoon properties as feature films (Scooby Doo, Marmaduke, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Underdog, Garfield, Speed Racer, etc.), but the idea of reviving such characters as TV series is considered a no-no?

One major reason movie execs chase these characters is that these properties appeal to adults who grew up with them and can easily attract their kids (if handled correctly). Case in point: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel in two weeks of release has a North American box office gross of $157.3 million!

20th Century Fox should just stop making live action films. The studio has been doing poorly in recent years, it’s only saving grace being The Ice Age movies, Alvin and the Chipmunks and the mo-cap Avatar (not to mention their TV fare led by The Simpsons and Family Guy).


  • http://www.ryanmcculloch.com Ryan McCulloch

    Is it wrong that I enjoyed the new chipmunk film so much?

  • http://hellohue.blogspot.com Hellohue

    You want Fox just to switch to animation? So the company can make some mostly uncreative unoriginal films that you’ll moan about? People will always pay to see the funny animal talk and behave with ‘attitude’. They know that, so they don’t care about killing older characters by ‘updating’ them.

    The no-brainer is whether they should spend months working on decent TV series that gathers income mostly from advertising and a little bit of merchandising maybe, or just output a 50/50 CG/live action film every year about, and rake in cash from the box-office and dvd sales? Obviously the latter. You don’t really want a company making decisions like that to switch to animation exclusively do you? Not to say anything of the actual animation which is mostly fine and at times genuinely entertaining, it’s just that if the overall films they’re making now with such properties are the predictable fare that they are turning out to be, how creatively bankrupt would they be if they were just animation?

  • http://www.thehungryreader.com Krepta

    Gaaaawd, and I thought they looked ugly in the eighties!

  • Doz Hewson

    “Hmmmm….looks like you’ve got yourself an idea there, Beck….”

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Perhaps it’s because you don’t need an animator to direct a live action hybrid and can fall back on live action directors with a background in television who are hungry to make live action films and will do whatever they’re told.

  • Marc Baker

    Maybe i would give that argument more credit if some of those films, particularly Scooby-Doo, Underdog, The Flintstones, Garfield, and yes, even Alvin, were rendered in pencil instead of being drastically brought to life, but that’s just me. Otherwise, it’s a very good point.

  • Greg Chenoweth

    You know, it’s funny, but I have no interest in seeing this film, but my ten year old son wants to see it really bad. He thinks Alvin and crew are great entertainment. We went to the last one and he wants to see this one. I don’t think it’s the adults that are dragging the kids to these movies but the other way around.

  • Rio

    Yeah, no kidding.

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ Michael Sporn

    At least Fox has learned how to make money off of animation. None of the other networks seem to have taken the lesson. Family Guy and Simpsons keep rolling on, successfully.

  • J.M.

    You mean mo-cap could’ve saved that Glenn Beck holiday flick?
    http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/144402/glenn_beck%27s_holiday_film_is_a_box_office_flop_/

  • ben

    think you answered your own question when stating how much the squeakuel has made. these movies seem to be pretty solid money-makers, despite how shitty they are. so why would they stop? they’re simple enough to make, and are pretty much guaranteed a healthy profit, mostly because of the name attached. the people greenlighting these arent artists, what do they care if its some cartoon that’d probably cost more to make.

  • http://www.dagnabit.tv John Ryan

    They could call themselves Cartoon Network. It’s not like anyone else is using the name.

  • http://elekiddo.blogspot.com Alex

    Nostalgia blinds the masses to the truth: these types of movies are garbage. Why see those damn dirty Chipmunks when they could be seeing quality animations like ‘The Princess and the Frog’?

  • http://parallasseinprod.blogspot.com/ dfantico

    Well, Fox did release Horton Hears a Who, so they are alright in my book. After Disney bought Marvel, it left Fox with the rights to only X-Men, Daredevil and Fantastic 4, only one of which is a consistent moneymaker. So, yeah, enough of Jennifer’s Body and whatnot.

  • http://awprunes.com Larry Levine

    I prefer cartoons over live action entertainment.

  • Sebring

    The continued success of the Chipumunk franchise keeps the Bagdasarians set for life in Santa Barbara and from developing other projects.

  • Gary Flinn

    Could it be that Fox’s only successful live action performers are right-wing anti-Obama nutjobs?

  • http://goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    I don’t know if it’s JUST parents and their kids going to see these movies. I have several friends who went to see the Chipmunks movies on their own, just because they grew up with the 80′s cartoon version and 60′s reruns on TV…people in the 20-30 age group.

    What’s more, most of the people I know who went to see “Squeakquel” liked it, even though the movie critics panned it.

    I avoided the first one like the plague and have tried to do the same with this one, but this appears to be one of those “word of mouth” movies that a lot of people enjoy and have voted on with their wallets.

    At least it’s based on characters who were never exactly the pinnacle of animation greatness in the first place, and they actually had some room for experimentation and improvement. Looks to me like they successfully saved a dead franchise. They took a dated concept with characters who were never attractively designed and whose voices grated on a lot of peoples’ nerves, and made them cuter, more contemporary, and broadened their horizons without completely ruining what made the original work in the first place.

    It’s only when they take characters who are universally beloved just for being who/what they are and then try to reinvent the wheel that we get crap like “Tom and Jerry the Movie” or “Garfield” or “Underdog”.

  • http://yeldarb86.deviantart.com Mr. Semaj

    Fox and the ex-Simpsons writers involved can have their lame-punned sequels. I’m popping in a DVD of the REAL Chipmunks movie (1987) to get away from this crap.

  • Sara H.

    This is a hilarious picture of you Jerry! If this was at a movie theater, I’m curious to know which movie you were actually there to see?

  • Rooinman

    I agree with you, Jerry.

  • EatRune

    I was gonna actually ask the same thing as Sara H.

  • squirrel

    Matthew: “Looks to me like they successfully saved a dead franchise. They took a dated concept with characters who were never attractively designed and whose voices grated on a lot of peoples’ nerves, and made them cuter, more contemporary, and broadened their horizons without completely ruining what made the original work in the first place.”

    Several things wrong with your statement. 1.) the chipmunks were never a dead franchise until the late ninties, when their 80′s cartoon ceased to rerun. 2.) How they were designed depended on who was in charge of which production. The original UPA-style designs were flat, but appealing and expressive. The next show were what I believe to be their ugliest phase! But then came The Chipmunk Adventure, and they’ve never looked as good since! 3.) I think these designs for the recent films look hideous. Even worse than the ones from the 80′s! 4.) They were always trying to be contemporary- not just these films. I remember Alvin sporting an 80′s t-shirt, cap, and jacket!

    But yes. There voices do grate on my nerves. At least The Squeakquel got THAT right.

  • Lucky Jim

    Listening to Jerry Beck would be the smartest decision Tom Rothman’s made in years. Not as smart as firing himself would be, but smart nevertheless.

  • your_homework

    As much as I hate to see this Alvin movie completely maul The Princess and the Frog, maybe what you say will bring some good from a movie which I thought could only bring misfortune. Even if the animation quality isn’t good, at least animators will have jobs.

  • ben

    their pupils sure are dilated for such a bright room, those crazy critters must be on drugs

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I haven’t seen the new Chipmunks movie (nor do I plan to),but I really would love to see a second Simpsons movie. Ice Age 3 was imho,the best of the ‘trilogy’ and Fantastic Mr. Fox was superb. Maybe Fox should try making a Garbage Pail Kids movie next.

  • Peter

    Now you’re thinking like a TV executive. “Hmm, the pics that made money were animated, so they must have made money BECAUSE they were animated! Duh!” Now you’re ready to work in television for the rest of your life and to continually fail upwards, Jerry. Congratulations!

  • Steve Gattuso

    Jerry, forgive me for saying this, but in that picture, you look like your “going to give Simon The Bad Touch…”

    As for Fox going all-animated, who says they haven’t? After all, Beck, O’Riley, Hume and the rest of that bunch are cartoon caricatures of human beings.

  • http://partyformyenemies.blogspot.com skid

    That picture puts fear in my belly. So creeeeepy!

  • greg m

    Had to take my daughters to see it, and was pleasantly surprised by the natural, yet caricatured, acting/movement of the characters. Hats off to Chris Bailey for seeing to that!

  • Jip

    It never ceases to amaze me how people love garbage from their childhood (chipmunks, transformers, scooby doo). Products that were never meant to be anything but cheap moneymaking products.
    Then when contemporary studios once again try to make money out of these properties, all of a sudden the original garbage is looked upon as classic and perfect.
    The chipmunks were invented to make lots of money quick. Their shows were nothing more than commercials for their lame songs.
    At least nowadays their animation doesn’t suck.

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    >>Then when contemporary studios once again try to make money out of these properties, all of a sudden the original garbage is looked upon as classic and perfect.
    The chipmunks were invented to make lots of money quick. Their shows were nothing more than commercials for their lame songs.
    At least nowadays their animation doesn’t suck.>>

    Sorry, but this animation doesn’t suck:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7YQhYYVPO0

    That said, I’d agree with you that both Scooby Doo and Chipmunks movies are not exactly sacrilege cause the original series weren’t brilliant.

    I watched the first Chipmunk movie. Not in the theaters. Despite two awful fart gags it wasn’t TOO bad. I mean, it was full of sappy morals, but it was ok for kiddies. At least the characters personalities were sorta there.

    I hate Garfield movies, though, even if I haven’t watched them, but they look terrible. And I’m not speaking about the animation here. Nowadays Garfield is a kinda lame comic strip, but I used to love it in its early days, and even though the gags in the strip are not that good I still think it has more dignity there. The movie looks like they have done everything wrong. The nurse is a nice person, Jon doesn’t seem so odd, Odie doesn’t have a giant tongue (they spent all the money doing the CGI Garfield)…

    And this should be stopped before they do CGI movies of Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and what’s next? probably the Looney Tunes. Those would be real sacrilege.

  • http://www.facebook.com Pixar Fan 2010

    I love the Chipmunk movies! They are way better than the Garfield movies. The picture of Jerry with the chipmunks was too funny!